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 Alice W. Busing  (1898 - 1973)

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Lived/Active: New York/Florida      Known for: Portrait, still life and landscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
Alice W. Busing
The Old Mill, 1930s, o/c
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Alice Wilmarth Busing (March 19, 1898 – September 17, 1973)

She was an American painter,  proficient in oil, pastel and watercolor.  She painted portraits, still lifes, and landscapes.  Her works were often accepted by a jury for the annual American Watercolor Society exhibit in New York City.  Her paintings won numerous awards throughout the years.  She was a member of the Scarsdale Art Association for thirty-five years.

Early Life
Alice Wilmarth Thompson was born in Brooklyn, New York March 19, 1898 to Gustave Whyte Thompson and Alice Cary (Wilmarth) Thompson.  Her father was of Swedish and English ancestry and was the Chief Chemist of the National Lead Company in Brooklyn.  Her mother came from a long line of early English settlers in New England.  The family lived in a brownstone house at 24 South Portland Avenue in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.  A brother Stanley was born in 1900.

Because her father did not want his children to be vaccinated against smallpox, Alice and her brother attended private schools.  She graduated from Adelphi Academy in 1916 and from Packer Collegiate Institute in 1918.  She then entered Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and graduated Summa Cum Laude from there in 1920.  At the time of her graduation, she was offered a scholarship to the Boston Museum School of Fine Art, but her father would not allow her to go to Boston and insisted that she return to Brooklyn.  She taught nature at the Brooklyn Museum.

Marriage and Family
In 1921 she became engaged to Waldemar Henry Busing whom she married on April 22, 1922.  They were married in the Packer Chapel by Rev. Charles Carroll Albertson, Pastor of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church.  In 1927 they moved to Scarsdale, New York with their first two children William Richard Busing (June 21, 1923 --  ) and Barbara Anne Busing (September 27, 1924 --  ).  They also had a third child, David Whyte Busing (July 14, 1931 – October 29, 2012).  The family resided in Scarsdale, NY and Sayville, Long Island, New York.

Artistic Career
Despite her father’s refusal to allow Alice to attend art school in Boston, art remained a large part of her life.  As a girl she had been greatly influenced by her Great Uncle Lemuel Everett Wilmarth (November 11, 1835 – July 27, 1918) who was a founder of the Art Student’s League in New York City and a member of the National Academy of Design.  His home, Sunny Crest, near Marlboro on the Hudson River was a favorite place for Alice to visit.  There she was allowed to work with Uncle Lem in his studio.  In the early 1930s she studied landscape architecture at Columbia University where the professor wrote on her final that it was the finest piece of work ever presented to him.  In 1933 she seriously sought instruction from other artists and continued to study over the years.  The most prominent of her teachers were Eliot O’Hara in oil, Helen Holt Hawley in portraiture and Edgar Whitney in watercolor.  She was proficient in oil, pastel and watercolor.  She is probably best known and remembered for her facility in getting a speaking likeness of her portrait subjects of all ages.  Her still lifes of flowers and country landscape scenes are also much loved.

As an artist, Alice signed her work “Alice W. Busing”.  The Wilmarth middle name meant more to her than the Thompson name because that name had been adopted by her Swedish sea captain grandfather, John Reinquist, when he became a naturalized American citizen in Boston c. 1854.  Paintings signed Alice W. Busing are in many homes throughout the country.  She taught art to beginners in her Scarsdale home for fifteen years and inspired many to become proficient.  She exhibited in many art shows, chiefly in Westchester County.  While she was not a member of the American Watercolor Society, her works were often accepted by a jury for their annual exhibit in New York City.  Her paintings won numerous awards throughout the years.  She was a member of the Scarsdale Art Association for thirty-five years before her move to Boynton Beach, Florida in 1971.  Many apartments in the Village Royale retirement complex where she and her husband lived displayed her work.  She helped artists there by acting as a judge for the Village Royale Art Association annual shows.

Alice Busing loved people and ideas.  Philosophical discussions with her were inspiring.  She never spoke ill of anyone and was a friend to all.  She gave pleasure to many and hurt to none.  A few weeks before her death she wrote the following memorandum: “Above all, I deeply appreciate and cherish the many, many friendships made and kept throughout my lifetime.  This to me is the chief factor in a satisfying and livable life.

Barbara Busing Harris – daughter of Alice Wilmarth Busing
Barbara Busing Wachs – granddaughter of Alice Wilmarth Busing
Description of Sayville art show featuring Alice’s North Carolina works and other artists’.
The Suffolk County News, Sayville, NY, Friday, August 22, 1947, p 5.

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